It’s Not a “Mistake” If You Plan It
I’m still thinking about cheating and how we, as a society, accept it as just something that happens. I think this is a huge problem for a number of reasons, not least because it gives the perpetrators a pass for their damaging behavior and leaves survivors feeling as though the crime committed against them—though it leaves them as broken and requires as much healing as many other types of abuse*—just doesn’t count.
Today I imagined, as I have been a lot lately, what might happen if I ran into the ex in a public place. I imagined a dialog wherein I told him to leave and he refused, telling me that he’d made a mistake but that didn’t give me a right to…whatever, that’s as far as I got before the following list began forming in my mind. It’s a response to the ghost of the ex and anyone else who wants to write this behavior off as a simple “mistake” to be forgiven and forgotten.
- A mistake is typing “ass” instead of “ask.”
- A mistake is putting your shoes on the wrong feet.
- A mistake is getting into a car accident when you did everything you could to prevent it.
- A mistake is an impulsive kiss or even a one-night stand.
- A mistake is something you do by accident in a moment of distraction or thoughtlessness or passion and then you stop and say, “Whoa. That was wrong. I’m not going to do that again.”
- When you are in a committed relationship and you purposely seek out a person outside the relationship for sex unbeknownst to your partner, that is not an accident. That’s not an impulsive action that takes place in an instant. That’s not a “mistake.”
- When you set out to deceive your partner on a daily basis, lying to her multiple times a day for months about where you are, making up elaborate stories about searching all over town for the right “surprise” when you’re actually having sex with your secret lover, that’s not a regretful misstep. That’s not just something that happens. That’s not a “mistake.”
This was not a mistake. This was a campaign of deception and betrayal.
Let me tell you about mistakes I’ve made:
- Spending seven years with someone because you believe what they tell you is true: that was a mistake.
- Wanting so badly to believe that someone loved me that I ignored the signs that he was not capable of it: that was a mistake.
- Trying to remain friends with the man who perpetrated what I have come to think of as abuse* against me: that was a mistake.
- Believing that he was even capable of being my friend after not only what he did, but the way he continued to treat me after the fact: that was a mistake.
- Believing that he would figure out how badly he’d fucked up and come back and do the work to make things right: that was a mistake.
These last few are mistakes because they held me back from healing. Who knows where I’d be now if I’d written him off in December, when I first tried to, rather than in February when I finally felt ready to?
Yeah, I know, it is what it is. But I’ve made my point: mistakes are not things you plan and execute like a serial killer. Mistakes are forgivable. Crimes like the ones this man perpetrated require more than forgiveness: they require redemption, and redemption requires sacrifice from the one hoping to be redeemed. It’s not something I can offer him—it’s something he has to want and work for and make happen for himself.
And maybe that’s one reason I’m having such a hard time with forgiveness—maybe it can’t happen without redemption. Or maybe I’m just not ready.
Maybe I never will be.
*I know, my use of the “A” word is a sticky issue for some. I am a survivor of many types of abuse and I don’t use the term lightly. I’m going to be writing more about it soon, but in the meantime, if it’s bothering you, ask yourself why. Ask yourself about power relationships and intent and consequences and damage. For some background, read this. We’ll talk more soon.
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This entry was posted on August 21, 2013 by Rosie. It was filed under Dark Places, Life, Men, Personal, Women and was tagged with abuse, betrayal, cheating, Committed relationship, Forgiveness, lying, Relationships, Sexual abuse.